TRAVERSE CITY – Perhaps what makes the Traverse City Summer Microbrew & Music Festival a destination summer festival is that it’s about more than the beer.
Yes, music lovers meet beer lovers.
More than 50 breweries – as well as a cider, mead and wine court – will offer hundreds of samples Friday and Saturday at the third annual event on the Village at Grand Traverse Commons lawn.
“We view it first as a celebration of beer,” festival director Sam Porter said. “We are also open to cider and mead and that industry especially since it’s so connected to Northern Michigan.”
The other big piece, according to Porter, is the music, with ongoing performers on the entertainment stage – including chart-topping folk rocker Martin Sexton, Grammy-nominated New Orleans brass brand Rebirth Brass Brand and festival funk favorites Euforquestra, among many others.
“We look to this as kind of the big music festival value,” Porter said, adding that it’s a unique concept to mix quality craft microbrews with legitimate music headliners. “One of our goals is to reach a larger audience.”
While about 85 percent of the breweries represented are Mitten-based, the festival is open to national microbreweries, which Porter says also sets the event apart from many other annual beer festivals. The brewers themselves are not charged table fees to participate in the event, and are treated “like the artist on stage.”
“I take a little bit of pride in not preaching to the choir,” he said. “We want this to be one of the top festivals (the brewers) choose to go to.”
New to this year’s festival is a “Silent Disco Tent” – a party installation that has gained massive popularity at such acclaimed music festivals as Bonnaroo and Glastonbury. The silent disco tent allows up to 200 festival-goers at a time to dance to music broadcast via a FM-transmitter to wireless headphones worn by participants, giving the effect they’re dancing in silence.
Popular local DJs and sponsoring local music venues trade off spinning music throughout the festival.
The festival runs 5-10 p.m. Friday with a Pint Night-themed evening, including $3 craft brew pint specials. Headline performances include Sexton, Euforquestra, Grand Traverse Pipes and Drums and Jam Rek drummers. The silent disco tent is open all night, and festival-goers can also visit the food and merchandise vending areas.
On Saturday, an expanded festival experience goes from 4-10 p.m., with more than 50 breweries and 200-plus flavors of beer, cider, mead and wine. With admission, each person receives a commemorative festival cup and five tokens, which each can be exchanged for a 7-ounce sample. Additional $1 tasting tokens are available.
Live music from Rebirth Brass Band, Barrage, Euforquestra, Ella Riot, That 1 Guy, Grand Traverse Pipes and Drums and several other are the day’s entertainment. Local food vendors and brew-friendly pub grub, an MSU Extensions Educational Tent featuring workshops on beer-related topics, the festival’s popular Hop ‘N Brew tasting shack, the silent disco tent and special partner activities and events are also planned.
“We’re working hard with a great group of volunteers,” Porter said. “We really hope the beer-loving community embraces this festival.”
With 5,000 anticipated attendees during the weekend, festival tickets are on sale at Oryana, Zamar Guitar, Jack’s Market, Tilley’s Party Store, and online at www.porterhouseproductions.com. Tickets are $30 in advance/$35 at the door for Friday and $40 in advance/$45 at the door for Saturday. The festival is open to attendees ages 21 and up, no exceptions.